[Ads-l] Pswaydo-BE

Thu Oct 5 00:16:02 UTC 2017

I don’t know that there is any solid evidence to support the widespread conjecture that shaking hands derives from a demonstration that the hands do not hold weapons.  After all, one would think that this could be better shown by holding the hands open.  Still, the historical evidence does support the view that handshaking was used particularly to show that former or potential enemies had reached a state of amity, so it does have some plausibility to it.

There is no similar historical record for high fives, or for that matter for low fives.  High fives come from the sports world; they have always been a symbol that the two people are on the same team and typically celebrate anticipated or realized successes.  Thus, the absence of weapons is already assumed.  I have always supposed that the “five” refers to the five fingers, but don’t have any specific support for that.

Can you explain why high fives are okay, but low fives are not, under a sexual-harassment policy?

John Baker

From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of James A. Landau
Sent: Wednesday, October 4, 2017 2:49 PM
Subject: Re: Pswaydo-BE

On Tue, 3 Oct 2017 11:20:29 Zone + 0000 Margaret Lee <mlee303 at YAHOO.COM<mailto:mlee303 at YAHOO.COM>> wrote:

>My research does include rock 'n' roll but not cakewalk. My early
>research focused primarily on occurrences of black words and phrases in
>the print media. Now my focus is on electronic media, particularly
>cable news and commercials. <snip>
>There are also non-verbal communication terms that have crossed over:
>fist bump, chest bump, high-five.

I have a question about not the name but the high-five _gesture_.
I have heard that shaking hands originated as a way to say "I greet you as a friend, and I am showing it by placing my weapon-less dominant hand in your hand".
Is this correct?
If you think about it, the high-five appears to serve the same purpose: "I greet you as a friend, and I am showing it by placing my weapon-less dominant hand against your hand."
Anyone agree?

Does anyone know the origin of the _name_ "high-five"? "High" is obvioius, "five" is less obvious (because all five fingers are involved?)

Then there was the manager who was lecturing his employees on the company's sexual-harassment policy and summed it up in one sentence: "High fives are OK, but low fives are not."

- Jim Landau

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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